Stir-Fried Chicken with Holy Basil

Luk Thys

Basil is serious business in Thai cooking, so much that there are three different cultivars used in distinct dishes. This Stir-Fried Chicken with Holy Basil from Bangkok Street Food by Tom Vandenberghe and Eva Verplaetse calls for bai krapao (holy basil), a favorite for stir-frying. Holy basil is heartier with a peppery nose that can stand up to the big flavors like the chiles, garlic, and fish sauce in this dish.

And aside from being spicy and fresh in a way that's borderline habit-forming, this stir-fry is a great way to break into the world of Thai cooking. It's really just a matter of stocking up on the basic pantry ingredients, getting comfortable with with high-heat stir-frying, and discovering the magical powers of fish sauce.

Reprinted with permission from Bangkok Street Food by Tom Vandenberghe and Eva Verplaetse. Copyright © 2010. Published by Lannoo. Available wherever books are sold. All rights reserved.

Recipe Details

Stir-Fried Chicken with Holy Basil

Active 15 mins
Total 15 mins
Serves 2 to 3 servings


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 8 ounces chicken breast, boned and chopped in small pieces
  • 2 big red chiles, chopped finely
  • 2 handfuls of holy basil (bai krapao)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water or chicken stock


  1. Heat the wok on a medium heat. Add oil and garlic, stir-fry for

    a few seconds. Turn on the heat and add the chicken. Add chilli

    and half of the basil. Stir-fry for 1 minute, add fish sauce, sugar and

    water or stock. Turn down the heat on low. Add the rest of the basil,

    stir-fry for a few seconds and serve on rice.